Education
 Cameroon
Project #12502

Soccer Programs to Empower 500+ Youth in Cameroon

by Cameroon Football Development Program
Soccer brings smiles!
Soccer brings smiles!

Time flies when you are having fun! I can’t believe it has been 4 months since the Super Cup.What began with a weekend of soccer in August has turned into a movement in Cameroon, impacting youth and communities far beyond our initial expectation. Thank you so much for your generous support! It seems like only yesterday that we gathered 50+ young players and coaches from across the Southwest and Northwest Regions of Cameron in the regional capital city of Bamenda for a thrilling soccer competition and leadership workshop. Since then, a lot has happened.

While we were gearing up for back-to-school and fall soccer seasons here in the U.S., our Super Cup players were activating their teammates to create positive change back home. Players, coaches and teams from Kumba, Mamfe, Bamenda, Ndu, and Ndom organized community service activities ranging from soccer matches for local orphans to neighborhood cleanup projects and even road repairs

“The theme of teamwork and community service inspired me at the Super Cup in Bamenda. My team and I will clean our environment, especially the football field, and organize friendly matches with young people in the local orphanage.”

-          Babila, Age 13

With some teams engaged in monthly service projects, we are optimistic this momentum will continue in 2016.

With the New Year in mind, I am excited to share more good news with you. For a second year in a row, FIFA Football for Hope will support our innovative educational soccer leagues in Cameroon in 2016-2017 with a grant in the amount of $60,000! While we look forward to making an announcement to the general public very soon, I wanted to make sure you were among the first to know. This will help propel us forward with another exciting year of innovative sport-based programs and community development initiatives.

From all of us on the CameroonFDP team, thank you and best wishes for a joyous holiday season!

Sincere regards,

Justin

Youth lay stones in the road to improve access
Youth lay stones in the road to improve access
Babila (Center) with teammates
Babila (Center) with teammates
Youth will never forget this hotel experience
Youth will never forget this hotel experience

The first group of players and coaches arrived in the parking lot at the Blue Pearl Hotel at Mile 4 - Nkwen on the morning of Thursday, August 6th. The coach and team, which consisted of five  players selected to represent their club, Brescia F.C. and the whole city of Kumba, made the journey via public transportation without any troubles, aside from a bumpy ride and police control points which forced occupants off the bus for identification checks. “Bamenda by Night”, as the locals call it, is an overnight bus ride taking more than 10 hours to travel 400 kilometers on both paved and unpaved roads through the Cameroonian jungle of the Southwest and into the grasslands of the Northwest Region. The weary travelers had only enough energy for a breakfast of tea and bread before they retired to their hotel rooms for some rest. They had finally arrived in Bamenda, the host city of the 2015 Super Cup to Develop Young Leaders.

The morning of Friday, August 7th began bright and early with the crow of the rooster and the rising sun. After a light breakfast, everyone headed to the field. Co-founders Peter Ngwane [Cameroon] and Justin Forzano [Pittsburgh] were on site to give a great welcome and words of encouragement to all of the participants, who were reminded that this event was a great achievement and represented the next level of sport for development in Cameroon.

With the group stage came a downpour of rain. Despite the muddy playing grounds, four teams emerged to enter the semi finals and finally the two clubs involved with CameroonFDP the longest, Brescia F.C. (Kumba) and Shalom Future Stars Academy, emerged victorious to meet in the finals.

Both teams stood in line in front of the honorable delegation from the Northwest Region who gathered under the canopy to watch the final match. This was their opportunity to showcase what they had learned from their coaches earlier about the theme of the Super Cup. Spectators listened as players read ‘motivational statements’ about the importance of being a good role model; how community service can improve a neighborhood; and how as footballers specially selected to participate in this event, they are leaders. Many in the audience listened and reflected on the meaning of the Super Cup. It was clear to all that this was about more than the game.

Want to find out who won the cup and what happens next? Check out the full story on our website

Teams stand with referee before kick off!
Teams stand with referee before kick off!
Team huddle with a game plan and prayer
Team huddle with a game plan and prayer
Champions lift the Super Cup in Jubilation!
Champions lift the Super Cup in Jubilation!
All players participate in leadership workshop
All players participate in leadership workshop

Links:

The last time we you received an update on our activities in Cameroon, we gave a preview of the season with a summary of the opening day ceremony which saw the first-ever full season of a youth soccer league in Kumba kick off. I'm excited to reconnect now and let you know that this season to date has been a great success and our local management team is busy planning for the final match coming up this weekend to see who will emerge victorious and go down in history as the first-ever Kumba Youth League winner. 

Brescia F.C. takes to the field against Arsenal F.C., a rivalry that will go down in the books for several reasons, one of which is too obvious: their most outstanding leadership. Both of the coaches, Modest (Brescia) and Besem (Arsenal) have grown so much over the last few years as coach- mentors in our programs. They are some of the most respectable and knowledgeable coaches in Kumba due to their open-mindedness and their interest in personal and professional development. This was not the case when we met them a few years ago: both were stubborn, lacked communication skills, and were sometimes outright hostile. They easily got frustrated when things did not go as planned and often shouted negative thing at their players - which is often the case in Cameroon. 

Now, Besem and Modest are mild-mannered, respectful, and view their coaching responsibilities in a different light. They see their players as more than just forwards or defenders, but as children, students, and young citizens. Their approach to coaching has changed. And because of this, the experience for all of their players has also changed. 

It should come as no surprise that these two teams have qualified for the final match. Quality performance and effective leadership off the field - in training and in every day life - can lead to quality performance on the field. And that is what CFDP is all about: using the game of soccer to improve the lives of hundreds of youth (and their coaches) in Cameroon. 

Thanks for supporting our project. We hope you will continue to be inspired by the work we do and continue to stay involved.  

Cheers!

-Justin

Kumba Arsenal FC - one of the U-14 clubs with CFDP
Kumba Arsenal FC - one of the U-14 clubs with CFDP

It's 2:00pm on Sunday and coaches and players start to arrive at GPS field, well before scheduled kick off time of 3:30pm. This is an amazing achievement in itself. If you are familiar with the concept of "African time", you know what we mean. The CFDP management team has been on site since early in the morning, arranging the canopy (tent), high table and chairs for distinguished guests, marking the field and hanging nets in the goals, and situating the PA system and cranking the speakers so that the neighbors will know a great event is happening at the field today. 

Soon, members of the surrounding community begin to arrive. Supporters of the two clubs playing in the opening match of Kumba's first U-14 league season. Then other community leaders, coaches, supporters and affiliates of CFDP. Finally, Chairman of the Kumba Board of Commissioners, Divisional Delegate of Ministry of Sports and Physical Education, with his entourage. Everything is set for the Opening Ceremony of the first-ever full season of the CFDP Community League and after a few welcome words from the Director of Operations, Diony Collins, pre-match activities begin. 

CFDP football (soccer) matches are different. We transform the playing grounds into a place of learning - for both players and spectators. Before kick off, players will run warm-up drills/games based on educational football drills they learned from Coaches Across Continents training last June. The referee will "quiz" players on each team about what they have learned from their coach in training sessions leading up to the match. Players will read motivational statements to the crowd, reinfocring their role as young athletes in the community to be role models, create awareness and promote social change  Finally, shaking hands between teams and promoting fairplay throughout the game concretizes the values of CFDP: this game is about more than winning.

The theme for this first season is GENDER EQUITY. Every match will highlight a different component of this crucial social issue, and Sunday's opening game was no different. The league will run from February through May, thanks to the generous support of donors like you and FIFA Football for Hope.

As for the outcome of the opening game between Kumba Lakers FC and St. Peters FC, it was a draw 1-1. But one team will go ahead in the table because of their adherence to CFDP values and our new points system. 

None of this is possible without your support. We want to first THANK YOU IMMENSELY for supporting our activities in Cameroon and second invite you to follow along on our blog, social media, and website. Stay connected and see what kind of IMPACT YOU CAN CREATE.

St. Peters FC - a new club created by CFDP coach
St. Peters FC - a new club created by CFDP coach
Kumba Legend FC - a new team in our community
Kumba Legend FC - a new team in our community
Collins and Wallace led the Coaches Clinics
Collins and Wallace led the Coaches Clinics

Our Youth Enrichment Football League was launched in Kumba in the summer of 2013. We started with a few reluctant coaches and wanted to see how we could incorporate our life skills and health education into competitive soccer. After a few successful attempts and a few failures, too, we found the perfect combination with a balance of learning and play. This gave us the confidence to move ahead with our regional youth league. 

In October, we launched our Coaches' Clinics aimed at bringing together amateur coaches and referees, and anyone else who loves soccer, to share with them our new approach to the game. As training workshops continued, more coaches began to see the vision: a holistic approach to youth player development, where there is as great focus on performance on the pitch as their is in the classroom and at home. By the end of the month, we began to see a shift in attitudes of coaches in the three communities where we have planted our roots: Kumba, Mamfe and Ndu. With this new approach, we are creating Community Impact Coaches!

The feedback we got from one of our coaches, Harrison Tetu of Wumjeck F.C.  sums it up best:

"The kids are really enjoying the new model. They are seeing improvements in their behaviour and are having the most fun when they are playing the game. They shake hands to show respect to their peers and do not fight with other teams like they used to. We are teaching them so many things through football that they can never learn anywhere else."

As the saying goes in Cameroon, "Long Live the Republic of Cameroon. Long Live CFDP. "

Stay tuned for more exciting updates as we roll out the league in new communities in the Southwest and Northwest Regions.

Coaches got great experience during the practicals
Coaches got great experience during the practicals
CFDP Staff take a walk through Kumba \
CFDP Staff take a walk through Kumba \

Links:

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Organization Information

Cameroon Football Development Program

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.cameroonfdp.org
Project Leader:
Justin Forzano
CEO
Pittsburgh, PA United States